Sick of year-end content yet? No? Us neither. We’re about to head into hibernation mode for the holidaze, but before we do, we’ve collected some of our favorite music videos from 2015, and conveniently collected them all in one place for your video playlist pleasure.
Olds like to decry the death of the MTV that used to play videos, but the music video has never been more prevalent; artists still use them to promote their music, build their profiles, and often, just express themselves artistically. One could even make the argument that music videos are even more important than ever, since a hit video can have global impact with breakneck speed, and reach infinitely more viewers than TRL ever did.
We watched a ton of videos this year, and amazingly, many of them were not terrible. Digital productions have lowered the financial requirements to make a splashy video, and while people are watching them on their phones and laptops rather than their televisions, a great video still gets people talking in a way that a hit song never could. With that in mind, here’s 50 videos from 2015 that we didn’t hate, listed alphabetically:
Chairlift – “Romeo”
This riff on Wong Kar-Wai’s riff on Hollywood, Chungking Express, manages to approximate the gorgeous brush-stroke aesthetic of the film’s slow-shutter technique pretty well. And while the narrative is thin and a even a bit silly, it looks beautiful, and we need someone to buy us that playing card rain slicker immediately.
Despot – “House of Bricks”
Despot is in the running with Jay Electronica for the “Best rapper alive with zero albums,” and he’s certainly the funniest. This video for “House of Bricks” takes us to hood he reps, which is also the model for his absurd gold and diamond ring. His mom, dad, and homies show up in the video, with mom dukes rolling doobies in their apartment with a pencil, vibing to her son’s jam. The song is at least five years old, but was officially released this year. The diminutive Despot couldn’t give a fuck if he tried.
Downtown Boys – “Wave Of History”
Downtown Boys are often serious; they’ll make you dance, but you’re going to get some truth along with it. This video for Full Communism track “Wave of History” is essentially an animated power point presentation, using statistics to draw lines between colonialism, slavery, police brutality, overcrowded prisons, and global financial oppression. Hands down, the most important band in music.
Ibeyi – “Better In Tune With The Infinite (Live on KEXP)”
If you haven’t heard Jay Electronica’s transcendent, drum-less “Better In Tune With the Infinite,” don’t be so hard on yourself; he released it on Soundcloud two years ago to little fanfare. But Ibeyi sure did, and the version they flipped (also known as “Exhibit Diaz”) takes the two final parts of the song and switches up the intonation, rhythm and tone, anchoring it with the track’s piano sample. As far as covers go, they don’t get much more inventive and beautiful than this. This live in-studio performance at Seattle’s KEXP is impressive because they slow down their original cover and work in even more nuanced inflection.
Jamie xx – “Loud Places (ft. Romy)”
In what might be the most unintentionally adorable video we saw this year, Jamie and his xx bandmate Romy (with long hair!) skate around London, clad in all black (duh), looking hip and somber for most of the clip. The blast of color from the confetti at the video’s end is a wonderful contrast, and decidedly NOT accidental, as one piece morphs digitally into Jamie’s logo.
Kelela – “Rewind”
Low angles don’t usually flatter most people, but Kelela is definitely not most people. This video for “Rewind,” a bouncy, danceable jam from her sonic sex tape Hallucinogen, uses lots of those low angles and dollies to follow almost every inch of her body as she wriggles and writhes to the beat. Yes please.
M.I.A. – “Borders”
Maya is back, and she ain’t having none of your xenophobic fear-mongering. In fact, she loves to poke at it, not unlike she did with “Paper Planes” (“gonna bang bang bang bang and take ya money”). In this clip for “Borders” she manifests every conservative white suburbanite’s greatest fear — immigrants pouring over fences in droves, or packed in boats arriving the shore. She also somehow manages to poke fun at contemporary slang and meme-ology while also showing she’s up on it. We can’t wait for the new record.
Post Malone – “White Iverson”
We could probably write several thousand words on who’s responsible for Post Malone and what he means, but for now, we’re just going to bask in the absurdity of this video. Utterly destroying a (likely rented) white Rolls Royce in the desert, his cornrows are coming apart, and his beard is scraggly. He looks and sounds ridiculous, and the track’s signature line is “White Iverson, when I started balling I was young/you gon’ think about me when I’m gone/I need that money like the ring I never won.” So why can’t we look away?
Vince Staples – “Señorita”
This video appears to be your standard wide-angle black-and-white “arty” hip-hop video, and really doesn’t make much sense for the first few minutes. But Staples’s bars keep this video together until its final shot, which serves as an instant Rosetta Stone to all of the complicated and seemingly disparate imagery you just saw. Jaw-dropping.
Young Thug – “Best Friend”
Young Thug might be our new favorite goofball (sorry, Riff Raff), and videos like this are a good reason why. He makes digital copies of himself, pastes his head on other people’s bodies, and hangs out with a gang of homies in the woods. Not much of Young Thug makes sense, but that’s kind of what makes him so charming. Just bob yr head along and don’t sweat it too hard.
And here’s all 50, in handy playlist form: